There had been rumours last year that Marco PW was to run the place but thankfully The Seafood Pub Company outbid him just days before Christmas. They closed it down and bashed and smashed it into a shape that had me lost at every turn yesterday. Where have all those little rooms appeared from? A table for ten can now have its own little ante-chamber. And then there's another for a table of eight. I like that - it means the public can't see me force-feeding my children while muttering, "Yes, artichokes may taste of burnt plastic, darling, but they are very expensive so eat them all up."
Actually, I had no need to threaten my children yesterday as they had the ribs and loved them, Zoe's adult portion hanging over the sides of her plate. The fresh chillies in her salad should probably have come with a warning but she had the sense to let me taste them first.
My piece of hake (with peas, bacon and pearl onions) was an enormous slab of perfectly cooked, milky, meaty fish. Ged's slow cooked lamb a tender mould of torn meat. He asked for mint sauce and I stopped myself from saying, "If the chef intended it to be served with mint sauce, darling, he would have provided it". It arrived instantly and was fresh.
I worked the table, as you do, taking photos (which did nothing justice) and interrogating my family about their meals. We're a picky lot, we cook a lot, we eat a lot but there were no complaints. Not even from me and that's a first (see yesterday's post if you don't believe me).
Actually, I've thought of something. I know there is no 'R' in the month of May but we would have liked a bit more seafood on the menu. Yes, there was a seafood curry but I'm allergic to bloody curry and the monkfish and king prawn tagine was too much of a sloppy dish to appeal to us. We like a lobster on the grill, a skewer of chargrilled prawns, even a decent crab sandwich.
Cannot comment on the puds because we had a birthday cake the size of a coffee table waiting at home but we'll be back.
Almost a ten out of ten, only failing on the seafood choices. Service from Dan the Manager and James the Waiter was the best I've had in years. Anthony Shirley is the chef (ex Harvey Nichs) and doing a fine job.
And it was packed. Which does lead me to think that if these failing Lancashire pubs are going to survive they have to be first class eateries AND they have to be independent of the breweries.